tv Dateline NBC NBC September 7, 2015 2:18am-3:02am EDT
eding has been a paid presentation for crepe erase, brought to you by trusted guthy renker. >> reporter: angelina then said why she was afraid. it turned out that when she and frank worked together at angel gate, they became involved in something potentially dangerous. >> we were both very strong christians. so we would pray together in the program. we were both very prophetic. some people would call it their gut. we both recognized and knew of the situations there. >> reporter: the situations? angelina said she and frank became convinced a person working at angel gate was engaged in inappropriate behavior with some of the students.
angelina said she reported the man to authorities and he now had motive to hurt her or frank. >> this person had said, if anybody jeopardizes my job, i will kill them. he looked at frank and he went like this. and he went, pow. right -- i mean, dead on, eye to eye. >> reporter: despite her fears, angelina said that night when frank returned from angel gate, he told her everything seemed fine there. >> they were great. they walked to me. they hugged me. they missed me. somebody in the office -- he didn't say who, i think he knew i wound be upset. somebody in the office said am i hungry or thirsty. gave plea gatorade or cookies. >> reporter: now she wondered, was there something in the gatorade? did that friendly welcome hide something much more sinister?
because the man angelina said had offered frank food and drink was the same man angelina had accused, the same man she said had threatened frank a month earlier. >> my instincts are usually pretty right on, at least that's my track record. >> your instincts right now are what? >> sergeant holloway. chad, frank's former boss. frank's friend. >> coming up -- >> i was beyond mad. i can't even describe how angry i was. >> chad holloway from friend to suspect. would you say you would like to put your gun to the head of the person that was doing this? >> something to that effect i did. >> when "dateline" c ll
>> reporter: angelina's daughter autumn, who was in the house when frank died, said good-bye in a way only a child could. >> autumn put a teddy bear in frank's coffin. she was a sweet little girl. she really was. >> reporter: the last good-bye was a struggle for frank's family. >> it was very hard on mom. she did go into a deep depression after that. >> reporter: as the people who loved him mourned, detectives with the los angeles sheriff's department were trying to find answers. they drove 200 miles north to the rolling hills and small town charm of san luis obispo, to angel gate, to check out angelina's unsettling story, that she had accused frank's friend, chad holloway, of misconduct with students, that chad was furious over that. and that all of it might be the reason behind frank's unexplained death. >> they were asking us our opinion of who had access to frank.
>> reporter: richard worked at angel gate at the time. he told police he hadn't noticed chad talking with frank, but he did remember how upset chad was about angelina's charges. >> chad was beside himself. i have never seen him that angry. >> reporter: chad holloway was pretty angry about that accusation, and expressed to some people that he would like to deal very harshly with whoever had done that to him. >> yeah, he was initially very angry about it, yes. >> reporter: angry enough to kill? >> who knows? we don't know chad holloway very well yet. we get to know him. that's what we needed to do. >> reporter: what detectives call getting to know you doesn't feel quite so friendly when you are a potential murder suspect. >> i was under the impression, before they talked to me, that they were so convinced did i this that they had stopped at the sheriff's department and basically told them to prepare to book me. >> reporter: you are in the crosshairs? >> i'm in the crosshairs.
>> reporter: how did that conversation go? >> they come up and asked a lot of questions. >> reporter: before they met chad, detectives had already learned something important, that the misconduct allegations against him had been thoroughly investigated by local law enforcement and found to be completely baseless. but the detectives also knew a false allegation can still be a very good motive for murder. that's one of the worst things that a teacher or instructor can do to a kid under his or her tutelage or control. >> yes. >> reporter: and it's also one of the worst things to be accused of if you didn't do it. >> that was probably the curious thing that it never happened to me in life. i had been to war, desert storm, a lot of things had happened in combat. i had never in my life been that
scared. >> reporter: scared and, he admitted, angry. >> i was beyond mad. i can't even describe how angry i was. >> reporter: did you say you would like to put your gun to the head of the person that was doing this to you and pull the trigger? >> something to that effect i did. >> reporter: detectives asked him about that. something along the lines of, you were the target of false allegations from the wife of a guy who is now dead and you were pretty angry at the time those false allegations were made. >> i -- i don't remember -- >> reporter: nearly ruining your life over phony allegations, that's enough to make a lot of people angry enough to do violence. >> i guess it could be, yes. >> reporter: but chad holloway insisted to detectives and to us, whatever threats he made were out of anger and frustration, and he would never have followed through.
when you said you wanted to take a gun and put it to the head of the person who made those accusations against you, you didn't know it was angelina you were talking about at the time? >> i did not. >> reporter: once you found out it was angelina who made the accusations, i'm guessing you probably thought of putting your gun to her head. >> absolutely not. >> reporter: no? >> no. >> reporter: chad also said what angelina told detectives about frank's last visit to angel gate never actually happened. were you working in the office? >> no, i wasn't working in the office. >> reporter: when you last saw frank, did you offer him a gatorade? or anything to drink? >> no. >> reporter: clearly, someone was lying. the question was, who? >> coming up -- >> all i heard was ask them go antifreeze. >> who and what had killed frank? investigators have a secret mission for sergeant holloway. >> you say i'm in. >> you better believe it. mary gets her bounce on.
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angelina rodriguez -- >> reporter: when her husband died, angelina quickly shared her suspicions with detectives, that frank had been poisoned by a former co-worker who carried a grudge. >> your instincts are what? >> sergeant holloway. >> reporter: so far, no solid evidence against chad. detectives looked at everyone who was close to frank, including his new wife. you talk to other people about frank and angelina's marriage? >> yes. >> reporter: and? >> we fine some interesting things out. >> reporter: for one thing, frank was angelina's fourth husband. but not necessarily her first choice. people who worked with angelina and frank at angel gate said angelina initially had her eye
on a different guy. >> she was interested in a gentleman that worked there also that was somewhat of a cowboy, wore cowboy boots. and a hat. all of a sudden she showed up with a cowboy butter sticker on her car and hat in the backseat. >> reporter: all of a sudden she's a cowgirl. >> now she's a cow girl. when he didn't want anything to do with her, she recognized frank was a religious man. >> reporter: the next thing you know? >> she has a bible in the back window in her car. and "i love jesus" bumper stickers. >> reporter: it seemed angelina was shopping pretty hard for a man, and would do what was necessary to get one. >> she was pretty much like a chameleon based on behaviors we learned about her when she was working at angel gate academy. >> reporter: they learned that after meeting angelina, frank had become less close to many of his friends at angel gate. then when the couple moved south, frank seemed to cut off his own family. >> he called me in may on mother's day and said, i can't
talk long, she's monitoring my calls. >> reporter: none of that fit the profile of a loving wife, or later a grieving widow. when soon after frank's death, angelina moved back up north and left behind some of frank's things. >> we found it very odd that she took his dress shoes from the service, some of his uniform stuff, some of his medals and stuff like that that he had, and they were all in the trash can. >> reporter: she threw them away? >> the things in the trash were shocking. things you think you'd keep from your husband that you loved. >> reporter: that was curious. but there was one thing above all others that made detectives suspect angelina might be involved in frank's death. something straight out of homicide 101. it was the way angelina kept bringing up frank's life insurance. >> frank and i sat down when we got married and said, we need to cover our butts. if something should happen to either one of us, we need to take care of each other.
>> reporter: how long after frank died did angelina call the insurance company to enter a claim? >> within eight hour. >> reporter: same day? >> same morning. >> now insurance is like, well, they probably won't pay because it's so new until the coroner says what the cause of death is. what do i do? sleep in my car? >> reporter: as the days went on and the coroner still didn't rule, angelina grew more and more impatient. >> i have a question. >> go ahead. >> did you guys get anything at all from the coroner? >> reporter: angelina kept calling and he kept recording those calls. >> no word from the coroner? >> well, they don't have anything yet. it takes time for this stuff. unless they know what they are looking for. >> reporter: detectives saw an opportunity. remember, they needed the same thing angelina did, just for different reasons. >> we need a cause of death. at this time we're thinking she knows what that cause of death is. >> reporter: they thought
angelina might be telling the truth about one thing, that frank had been poisoned. and they also knew what frank's sister told them, something very strange that angelina had said to her. >> she said, there are lots of ways you can poison someone. she said, for instance, we have a flower out here. >> reporter: it thrives in warm climates like southern california. the leaves and flowers are toxic, but only deadly in large quantities or if the poison is concentrated. angelina seemed to know how to do that. >> she said, you can make a tea out of that or make a soup out of it. it's a poison. >> when we were right in the limousi limousine, she pointed out, those are the bushes. >> reporter: detectives found the bushes in another place, angelina and frank's backyard. now they wondered, since angelina was so eager to get a death certificate and collect the life insurance, would she
slip up and tell them what killed frank? they spoke with her again and again. all the while telling her they were gathering evidence against frank's co-worker, chad holloway. >> we keep asking her, angelina what poison would chad have given frank? >> it could be anything. it could be the flowers on the road. it could be something -- >> flowers on the road? >> yeah. >> flowers on the road? >> the -- what the heck are those? you know, they grow in the middle of the highway. i think they're azalea. >> at this point, we believe she knows exactly what it is, no doubt. >> reporter: she's trying to get you to say it? >> she would rather have us say it. and, of course, we'd rather have her say it. >> reporter: try as they might, they couldn't get angelina to say the word oleander. she kept calling them about chad. one day delivered another clue straight to investigators. someone had called her, she said, and told her something big.
>> okay. it was about maybe five or ten after 8:00. >> in the morning? >> yeah. because i was on my way back from dropping my daughter off at school. i would get this call and it was -- it was blocked. they said they wanted to tell me what was going on, because they had a lot of respect for frank but they couldn't tell me who they were because they know how holloway is. they said, you need to know a conversation i had with holloway. he had said if they try to track it down they can't pin me because and they said -- >> they can't pin me? >> >> they can't pin me. it started breaking up. all i heard was, ask them about antifreeze. >> reporter: antifreeze. not oleander. >> not oleander. >> reporter: had it been on your radar screen? >> i don't believe so. >> reporter: naming a new poison was one interesting detail in this conversation.
remember angelina said the anonymous informant called her shortly after 8:00 a.m. you got her phone records? >> i got her phone records, yes. >> lo and behold there had not been any calls anywhere near incoming or outgoing to angelina's phone at that time. >> reporter: in trying once again to implicate chad holloway, angelina had implicated herself. now, detectives again went to see chad. this time, to talk about angelina. >> angelina rodriguez, that was the last person that i ever wanted to see, ever wanted to hear her name, have anything to do with whatsoever. >> reporter: then the investigators say to you, we want you to help build a case against her. and you say, i'm in. >> you better believe it. >> coming up -- >> we befriended her. we went to her house. >> detectives devise a plan to trap angelina. but angelina has a plan of her own.
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and that the poison might be what she called that flower in the road, or possibly antifreeze. finally, the coroner's report came back. the finding? frank rodriguez was killed by the key ingredient in antifreeze. the tox screen also found oleander. new detectives felt they knew for sure frank had been murdered. they knew how and they thought they knew who. not chad, but angelina. to make this case stick, they would need a little more. so they kept angelina talking. >> we befriended her. we went in her house. first thing she did was offer us coffee. my partner and i kept kicking each other under table. no, no, no, we're good. thank you, we're good. >> my instincts are -- >> reporter: angelina tried to cast suspicion frank's friend and co-worker chad holloway. chad, she said, was the killer.
but detectives didn't believe her. and instead, enlisted chad to help set a trap for her. the idea is what here? >> see what kind of mistake she may make. >> reporter: they asked chad to call angelina while they listened in. she had done her best to put chad in the gun sights of law enforcement. now came his chance to return the favor. >> hello? >> angelina? >> yes. >> why did you tell the police that i poisoned frank with antifreeze? >> who is this? >> my main question, angelina -- >> how did you get my number? >> i want -- i'm wondering how in the world -- this could ruin my life. >> reporter: at one point you say, angelina, you are going to ruin my life which actually, although it's maybe part of the script for that call, kind of
true given what she tried to do to you before. >> it was. but inside, i knew that it's the other way around. you are not going to ruin my life anymore. it is your life that's going to be ruined because of this. >> you know what? you need to call the investigator. i'm ending this conversation. >> okay, angelina. >> reporter: then within a minute of chad hanging up, angelina called the cops and gave them quite a different version of the call they had just listened to. >> i just got a phone call from holloway. >> holloway called you? >> yes. he said, how can you -- the detectives told me that they think i killed frank with antifreeze. >> that's what we told him. >> he says, you know, i wouldn't go spreading these things around. so i'm like, what are you talking about? i said, i don't need to be talking to you. and he said, well, they will never be able to catch me. but he said, you know -- >> he said --
>> he said you better watch your back. >> god. okay, okay. >> i am scared to death. >> reporter: who angelina should have been scared of is that the cops were on to her two be yus lies. this one about what chad supposedly said to her and the previous call about antifreeze. angelina still hadn't admitted anything, at least not to detectives. then they found a good friend of angelina's, a confidant. she told the cops that just months after the wedding, angelina was already bored with frank and cheating on him. >> they were sitting around like girls do and talking about killing their husbands. joking around, how they would do it >> reporter: as girls do. >> my wife is probably doing right now. >> reporter: the friend quoted angelina as saying that she didn't want to divorce frank because he had just bought life insurance. >> another conversation on the telephone with her.
angelina told her she was making a milk shake for frank. and special milkshake for him. she questioned whether frank was sick. and angelina told her, not yet. >> reporter: not yet? >> not yet. >> reporter: of course, angelina had no idea what the cops knew. she thought they were still investigating chad. and she was still happy to help them do that. for example, detectives told angelina, they couldn't figure out how chad knew when frank was coming to angel gate. he would have had to have known when, they told her, so that he could have his poison ready. miraculously? >> miraculously, a fax shows up. >> reporter: it was a roster for the day of frank's visit with frank's name conspicuously written in. the fax that came right to sheriff's homicide? >> correct. >> reporter: that was convenient. >> very convenient. >> reporter: the fax did not include the sender's name.
but it did send a clear message. the cover sheet to the fax that was received anonymously at sheriff's homicide. why is chad still free? chad never knew how hard angelina had pushed the cops to arrest him. >> wow. this is -- this has got me shaking. >> reporter: five months after her husband's death, police dropped in at angelina's house. >> good morning. >> reporter: angelina thinks their next stop will be chad's place. it won't. >> holloway couldn't have done this. >> reporter: for the next 35 minutes, they try to get angelina to give it up. they lay out the facts. >> the only information, the only person that supplied any information that frank was poisoned was you. no one else. knew frank was poisoned. only you.
only you knew oleander, in addition to that, antifreeze. nobody in this entire investigation told us about antifreeze. >> reporter: they tell her the poisons were still in frank's stomach, which meant he ingested them days after his return from angel gate. and within hours of his death. meaning angelina was the only one that could have given them to him. and detectives tell her while she thought she was playing them, they were playing her. >> this entire time, we have used everything you said and followed up on everything you have done and said. and quite frankly, it's hard to remember all those lies. >> reporter: angelina told them they were wrong. >> i didn't kill my husband. >> okay. you need to stand up. >> are you arresting me? >> yes.
you are under arrest for the murder of frank. >> no! i didn't kill my husband. no! >> we have a search warrant for your apartment. >> i swear i didn't kill my husband. >> we can prove that you did. >> reporter: angelina might seem beaten, but she had a few more punches left in her. just wait. >> please, i didn't kill my husband. i swear. >> coming up -- a secret plan from inside prison. and another undercover sting. >> something is happening to your friend. >> a haunting question from deep in the past. had angelina killed before? >> it was like reliving her death all over again.
>> angelina rodriguez was charged with the murder of her husband frank. it turned out, that might not be the worst thing she had ever done or ever would do. >> you think that if they made it look like a suicide, they would be bright enough to figure that -- to figure a way do that? >> reporter: what you are hearing is the wheels of a mind turning, that's angelina in jail, speaking through the air vents with her neighborhood in solitary. >> they can do it, robbery gone bad. or they can make it look like the boyfriend gone mad. >> reporter: angelina believed the statements about how angelina was bored with frank and wanted a life insurance payout were the most damaging evidence against her. so it seemed angelina made a decision, hire someone to get rid of her friend. this is angelina inside the jail trying to set up a hit on her
outside? >> correct. >> reporter: to keep her from testifying? >> correct. >> reporter: the inmate angelina was talking with turned her in. soon, detectives were recording angelina's conversation. >> i think cyanide then, you know, that would do it real quick. you know what i'm saying? >> reporter: if that sounds cold blooded, consider this. angelina made clear she would help care for her children, after that is, she had their mother killed. >> if it came down to it, i would adopt her kids. that's how much i love her kids. i don't love her anymore. does that make sense? >> you will take care of the kids, but she got to go? >> yeah. that was what i was thinking. >> reporter: police told her what angelina was up to and asked for her help. this time, they got really creative. >> basically stage her death. we would have her on the -- her bed in her house with a fake
bullet hole and fake blood. >> reporter: that picture is very convincing. >> it was very convincing, yes. >> reporter: they sent a cop posing as a bad guy with pictures in hand to visit angelina in jail. >> something happened to your friend. >> who? what? >> okay? >> where did you get those from? you need to contact her family. >> oh, my god. >> angelina's initial response was, oh, my god. oh my god, i was only kidding. >> i thought she was kidding. >> shortly thereafter, it was, oh, my god, i'm going home. >> i am so ready to go home. >> reporter: she killed her husband. >> no doubt. >> reporter: she tried to kill a witness against her. >> correct. >> reporter: anybody else? >> her baby. >> reporter: in the course of their investigation into frank's death, detectives found out that in 1993, angelina's daughter
alicia choked on her pacifier and died. they also learned that angelina sued the pacifier manufacturer and settled for more than $700,000. what's more, she collected life insurance on her 13-month-old baby, just as she had tried to do with frank. detectives reviewed the evidence and came to believe alicia's death was no accident. you were confident after the investigation that that pacifier was tampered with, the baby didn't do it and it didn't come apart naturally? >> absolutely. >> reporter: tom fuller, angelina's ex, was alicia's father. >> i went ten years thinking that alicia's death was an accident. so it was like reliving her death all over again. >> reporter: angelina says she did not kill her baby. and she was never charged with that. she did stand trial for the murder of frank rodriguez.
a prosecution expert testified angelina poisoned frank at least twice. first with oleander, which made him sick enough to go to the e.r. but not to kill him. then when she was giving him fluids the doctor ordered, she was dosing them with antifreeze, which was fatal. the jury found angelina guilty of first-degree murder for financial gain but couldn't reach a verdict on whether she tried to kill that witness. in the sentencing phase, the judge allowed the jury to hear evidence implicating angelina in her daughter's death. then the jury agreed on a sentence. >> you should be put to death. >> reporter: even while facing a death sentence, angelina seemed unfazed. she addressed the court but admitted only to some errors. >> i broke and made a few terrible, stupid mistakes which i regret very much. we all make mistakes. i picked the wrong time to make mine.
murder is not on that list. >> reporter: frank rodriguez thought angelina was the god ff hering woman of his dreams. he was wrong. tom fuller thought she was a nurturing mother who would protect their daughter. he will never know for sure if he was lured into a terrible mistake. but chad holloway understands. he knows now just how close pure evil came to him. he says he let it go with the gratitude that, unlike his friend frank, he at least survived with his reputation and his life intact. >> people need to know how evil angelina was, how many lives she ruined to try to get a little bit of money. and she wasn't going to stop at nothing until she got what she wanted. i want angelina to know, you didn't ruin me. you didn't ruin me at all. >> reporter: in the bible, we are warned that satan disguises himself as an angel of light and
sometimes he's pretty good at it. >> that's all for now. i'mr holt. thanks for joining us. this sunday, former secretary of state colin powell, his first interview since the nuclear deal, his stand on race in america and on election 016 and our nbc news marist poll from two states where it counts the most, iowa and new hampshire. who is up? who is down? and which of these candidates may now have a reason to worry. also, jeb bush takes on trump. >> there's one candidate in this -- in the republican party that is preying on people's angst and fears, that has a philosophy not about the goodness and greatness of the american people. will it work? >> so far everybody that's attacked me have gone down the tubes. >> and the big